New Navy Missile Destroyer Named for Vice Admiral James Stockdale

Last Saturday the Navy dedicated its new missile destroyer to the late Vice Admiral James Stockdale. The USS Stockdale is a 509-foot-long warship that will be based in San Diego. Several thousand people gathered at Naval Base Ventura County for its dedication.

Stockdale was Ross Perot’s vice-presidential running mate in 1992 and is infamous for his televised debate with the two other running mates, Dan Quayle and Al Gore.

Stockdale was a veteran of the Vietnam War and was held a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton. For his bravery and leadership during his imprisonment, then-Captain Stockdale received our country’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

A Navy pilot, Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam on September 5, 1965. When his plane was hit, he had no choice but to eject. When ejecting, Stockdale broke his left knee and left shoulder. When he landed in a small village, a group of North Vietnamese clubbed him until soldiers pulled them off.

Stockdale spent three years in solitary confinement. When he was moved to the Hanoi Hilton, he was the senior officer in imprisonment. He organized the men to keep their captors from breaking their spirit.

Once when the prison guards broke up a church service, he was one of the prisoners who defied by singing the National Anthem. He organized a hunger strike to protest that they refused to give medical care to a sick officer. When it was indicated that he would be used in a propaganda film, he bloodied his face and scalp with a piece of wood and dull razor.

The guards identified him as the leader of the resistance and put him in solitary confinement. Fearing he would break and disclose the names of his cohorts when tortured, he slit his wrists with broken glass from the window of his small cell. The guards found him before he bled to death and gave him medical care. After this, the torture abated.

Stockdale was released in 1973. Three years later he was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford.

Read more about Stockdale in the Los Angeles Times or UPI.com or LA Times (again) or the Business Times.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Current events, Veteran News, Vietnam

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